Pentax K-30 Digital Camera Review
The Pentax K-30 includes a little bit of something for everyone: automatic and scene modes for beginners, exposure and manual modes for control freaks, and user-savable custom modes for true personalization. The mode dial on the top offers access to all of these, putting a high level of control at your fingertips.
Exposure can be manually controlled in one of five shooting modes right on the dial: bulb, manual exposure, sensitivity priority, shutter-priority, aperture-priority, and shutter/aperture-priority. The manual and bulb modes let you set the three aspects of exposure (shutter speed, aperture, and ISO) manually (manual mode allows for auto ISO, bulb mode does not). Shutter-priority and aperture-priority grant you control over ISO as well as the shutter speed and aperture, respectively.
Sensitivity priority is a little more rare, as only Pentax DSLRs offer it. In this mode you manually set the ISO speed, letting the camera take over the rest, though you can shift exposure with the control dials. This is no different from shooting in program auto mode and setting ISO manually in any other DSLR, except it occupies a dedicated spot on the dial. Shutter/aperture-priority is the exact opposite, forcing you to set aperture and shutter speed manually while ISO is set automatically.
Focus was a bit of a hang-up performance issue on the Pentax K-5, as it could really struggle under low light conditions. We found that indoor artificial lighting, especially. The camera would lock on, but it often took more than few seconds, even when using fast primes like the Pentax 35mm f/2.4, as we did in our time with the K-5. The K-30 is designed with a new autofocus system, but we put it to the test in low light to see if it offered much improvement.
We tested the K-30 under two types of lighting conditions, 40 lux and 10 lux, from six feet using a portrait focal length of 85mm (35mm equivalent). With a high contrast target we found it was able to lock on with the center point, but it took a little less than a full second at 40 lux (typical of what you'd see in a low lit bar or restaurant) with a stationary target. In the 10 lux test we found the K-30 took a little longer, and around 20% of the time it took a substantial amount of hunting before locking on.
We tested in both contrast detection AF modes and phase detection, finding the contrast AF slightly more accurate, though a hair slower. The contrast detection mode matched phase detection for speed with a stationary target at 40 lux, but it began to have real problems at 10 lux (as expected). In the more extreme low light setting, contrast AF simply failed to find focus around 20% of the time. In all our AF tests we allow the camera to use its AF assist light, though the K-30 only activated it around 1/3rd of the time and it made no difference in our tests both in terms of speed and accuracy.
The Pentax K-30 captures images at a maximum resolution of 16 megapixels. Images can be recorded in RAW (DNG) or JPEG, with JPEG compression available in best, better, and good settings. You can shoot in sRGB color profile by default, or opt for the expanded AdobeRGB if you want something more expansive.